The Writers Guild’s proposals for a new talent agency agreement were greeted with skepticism from the Association of Talent Agents today.
The WGA has proposed 30 changes to its 42-year-old agreement with the ATA that would reshape the talent agency business by putting an end to packaging and stopping the agencies’ nascent ventures into film and television production. The WGA says the changes are needed to curb “conflicts of interest” inherent in agents representing writers on projects in which they have a financial interest.
ATA executive director Karen Stuart isn’t buying the guild’s arguments but says she and the agencies will bargain with the WGA now that the guild has set a one-year deadline for the termination of their existing deal.
“Two weeks ago, the WGA announced its intention to re-negotiate the 42-year-old agreement that governs how agents interact with their writer clients,” Stuart said in a statement today. “Given how well this agreement has worked over the years – and the fact that never in all that time has the WGA formally contacted the ATA to object to any of its provisions – we found the announcement as puzzling as it was surprising. Attempting to take away from agents opportunities and the right to commission traditional services will not benefit the writers; rather, it will have the opposite effect.
“The fact is that many of the practices that the WGA presents as problematic create exactly the opportunities its members have been demanding from their agents: access to other agency clients to help advance their projects, innovative deal strategies, aggressive negotiating tactics, and an expanded array of services for the writers and the talent community more generally. Given all this, it’s hard to understand
She added: “Nevertheless, the ATA and its members are committed to bargaining in good faith, with the objective of ensuring that the interests of writers are served.”